Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton

No. 445.]

Sir: The Canada’s mails arrive at the latest hour available for reply. I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of November 27, No. 379.

* * * * * * *

It is, however, equally clear that this government has, under the law of nations, an indisputable claim upon that of France to prevent the departure of such expeditions from her coasts. It is worthy of serious consideration whether the government of the United States, in becoming a suitor in a French municipal court against French conspirators, would not seem to imply at one and the same time a distrust of the justice of the French government and a willingness to modify their claim upon it.

In view of that consideration, the government is deliberating upon the question whether it will authorize suits to be instituted in its name, as is proposed.

William M. Evarts, esq., a lawyer of much learning, has heretofore visited London for the purpose of conferring with our minister residing there upon legal questions raised in that capital. He has now been directed to return to London on the 30th instant, and he will be charged to proceed to Paris and confer freely with you upon the subject of our claims upon the French government. The President will reserve the question of instituting legal proceedings in the French courts until we shall have received your advice, fully matured, with the aid of any suggestions that Mr. Evarts may be able to make. * * You will communicate to Mr. Evarts all the facts which may be within your knowledge and have a bearing on the case, as fully as you think they ought to be reported to this department.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


William L. Dayton, Esq., &c., &c., &c., Paris.